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How Do KF94s Stack Up Against KN95s and Other Masks?

KF94 mask.

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Key Takeaways

  • KN95 and N95 masks have a 95% filtration efficacy compared to a 94% filtration efficacy for KF94 masks.
  • Despite this 1% difference, experts say all three masks are effective at preventing COVID-19 infection. 
  • KN95, N95, and KF94 masks can be obtained through state and local distribution centers or purchased at major retailers.

Omicron’s highly transmissible nature has pushed public health experts to rethink masking guidelines. Experts are urging people to leave behind cloth masks for higher forms of protection like N95s.

However, the demand for N95 masks coupled with low supply has made way for the growing popularity of other types of high filtration masks like KF94s and KN95s.  All three are extremely similar, with just a few differences. We asked experts to explain how they stack up against one another.

How Is a KF94 Different From Other Masks?

According to Karl Minges, PhD, MPH, interim dean at the School of Health Sciences at the University of New Haven, two of the major differences between KF94, KN95, and N95 masks are the manufacturer location and filtration efficacy rates.

The “KF” in KF94 stands for “Korean filter” and the number 94 indicates the mask’s filtration efficacy. This means that KF94 masks were made in South Korea and can filter 94% of particles, Minges told Verywell. KF94 masks also look a little differently than traditional KF95 or N95 masks. Instead of sticking out in a beak manner, it folds flat while still contouring close to the face. Some say it creates more space between the mask and your mouth for a more comfortable fit.

KN95 masks, on the other hand, are manufactured in China, have a 95% filtration efficacy. N95s offer 95% filtration efficacy and are made in the U.S. or in a CDC-approved facility, which may be located overseas.

While some may assume that KN95 and N95 masks perform better due to the 1% difference, “all [KN95, N95, KF94] are effective at preventing COVID-19 infection and are considered high-quality masks,” Bernadette Boden-Albala, MPH, DrPH, director, and founding dean of the program in public health at the University of California, Irvine, told Verywell. 

Minges says that more research is needed to determine whether that one percent difference in filtration is meaningful.

What This Means For You

Whether you’re purchasing a KF94, N95, or KN95 mask, experts recommend overall that your mask of choice has a snug fit, is breathable, and has been regulated by a federal or governmental agency.

Where Can You Buy Them?

Boden-Albala and Minges said that people can obtain these masks through state and local government distribution centers, or they can be bought at most major retailers like Amazon. However, they recommend checking the masks to ensure that they’re not counterfeit

One way to check if a KF94 mask is legit is by looking at its manufacturer location. “KN94s are highly regulated by the Korean government, thus if the product is manufactured in South Korea, it is likely a legitimate product,” Minges explained. 

For N95 masks, the easiest way to identify whether it’s counterfeit is by searching the testing and certification approval number on the Certified Equipment List (CEL). All NIOSH-approved respirators will be searchable on the CEL. Minges added that KN95 masks no longer have Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration due to a sufficient supply of N95 masks for healthcare workers. But you can check this Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list on previous authorizations for KN95s as a starting point.

In the end, “what matters the most in mask selection is a snug fit,” Minges said.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

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3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Types of masks and respirators.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NIOSH-approved N95 particulate filtering facepiece respirators.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Counterfeit respirators / misrepresentation of NIOSH-approval.